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There was nothing quick about how we arrived at the standardised second

Measuring the length of a second might seem simple, but this history of the time unit from TED-Ed shows how the road to the modern, standardised second was anything but. Written by John Kitching, a Fellow at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, the video details how the advent of global communications and transit systems left the world in need of a more precise and universal understanding of a second – and how that search ultimately led to the atomic clock.

Video by TED-Ed

Director: Tjoff Koong

Writer: John Kitching

8 February 2021

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